Adaptive Clothing for Disabilities and Body Differences

Most clothing is designed for people to wear when standing rather than for prolonged seated wear. For a wheelchair user, clothing designed for seated use can be much more comfortable and functional on a daily basis. For example, pants designed for seated use tend to have a shorter rise in the front, which reduces fabric bunching in the groin area, and a higher rise in the back for full coverage. They also generally do away with back pockets and lumpy back seams — or any back seam — for added comfort.

Tops designed for wheelchair use often include snap or hook and loop closures at the back of the neck to make them easier to put on and take off over the head, or they may have hook and loop closures along the entire back, to make it easier for caregivers to get the shirt on and off the person wearing it.

Here are some examples and brands that have designed wheelchair-friendly clothing.

  • Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive has a range of seated wear, including a Seated Fit Jegging, which is aesthetically pleasing, as well as several shorts options. The Seated Fit Flag Regatta Jacket has front pockets at the right height for wheelchair users, and the Seated Fit Stripe Signature T-Shirt has a Velcro closure along the back length of the shirt.
  • JC Penny Adaptive offers the Mutual Weave Adaptive Seated Denim Men’s Straight Fit Jean, which features stretch fabric, hook and loop closures on either side of the abdomen, a higher back rise with an elasticized back waistband, and loops to help pull the jeans on.
  • Alter UR Ego sells “jeans for everyone” that feature pockets on the thighs of the pant legs rather than at the hips, an elasticized back waistband, and loops to help pull the jeans on.
  • IZ Adaptive is a truly fashion-forward line of disability-friendly clothing. Here you’ll find jeans, sweats, chinos, and leggings, as well as fashionable tops, capes, coats, dresses, and suit jackets.
  • Ministry of Supply offers a stylish line of adaptive men’s and women’s suit pants that are designed with the wheelchair user in mind.
  • Rollimoden is a German company that specializes in seated jeans, men’s business wear and underwear, and accessories such as wheelchair gloves and hand protectors.

Clothes for Amputations and Prosthetics

People who use prostheses not only may need some of the adaptations to clothing that assist with dressing and undressing, but they also have the additional challenge of the prosthesis changing the size of the limb at the joint (particularly the knee), as well as also Significant wear and tear where the prosthetic joint rubs on the clothing.

Here are some options to consider for people who use prostheses or have amputations:

  • No Limbits men’s and women’s pants are designed for comfort with soft fabrics, extra space where needed for prostheses, and hidden zippers that allow accessing prostheses during the day as needed. They are also strategically reinforced to withstand the wear and tear caused by mechanical parts.
  • Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive offers some items that may make dressing easier for people with amputations and prosthetics, such as the men’s Regular Fit Colorblock Shirt With Removable Sleeves and the men’s Seated Fit Classic Chino, which has internal pull-up loops to make it easier to get them on and Velcro closures for easier access. In women’s wear, the Colorblock Denim Jogger has an elastic waistband and zippers along the lower legs to accommodate leg braces and prosthetics.
  • Buck & Buck sells men’s and women’s adaptive clothing for a variety of needs. For people with amputations, they can alter clothing as needed. For example, the company will modify the sleeve length of shirts and dresses, modify the leg length of pants legs, or insert zippers or snaps into pant legs for easy access to the leg.

Easy Access for Medical Devices

If you use a medical device such as a port or a feeding tube, apparel that has openings to allow access to these devices is much more convenient than conventionally designed clothing. Here are just a few of the many examples of clothing designed for easy access to medical devices.

Underwear and Intimates

Finding bras, underwear, and other intimates that have adaptive features while also being aesthetically appealing has historically been almost impossible. In the past two decades however, a variety of options have come on the market that are both stylish and functional for a variety of needs, including difficulty with closures and potential fasteners, weakness, and other barriers to putting on and taking off underclothes.

  • JC Penny Adaptive has a variety of adaptive intimates including the Slick Chicks Front Fastening Adaptive Bra, which closes with hook and loop tape, and the Slick Chicks Adaptive Hipster Panty, which opens on the side.
  • AnaOno specializes in bras and other undergarments for women who have had mastectomies or other breast surgeries. They have a variety of bras designed for mastectomy, lumpectomy, flap reconstruction, and other needs. For example, the Molly Unilateral Plunge Bra has nonmolded cups, which are designed to make sure the bra lies smoothly on the mastectomy side, while also offering support for the other side. It can also be used with a breast form insert.
  • Intimately has a collection of bras and underwear for women that have such features as magnetic and front closures for bras, side openings for panties, and grip loops on both for those with hand dexterity limitations.
  • Zappos Adaptive offers various sensory-friendly seamless bras including the Under Armor Seamless Low Long Bra. It also offers some breast surgery-specific bras such as the Anita Lynn Mastectomy Bra, which has removable foam cups and breast form pockets on both sides.
  • Patti + Ricky has men’s adaptive underwear as well as women’s underwear. To put on the men’s briefs or boxers, the waistband is first wrapped around the waist and fastened in front with a Velcro piece, then the front panel is pulled through the legs and attached at the sides with Velcro.

Sensory-Friendly Clothing for Texture Sensitivities

People who have chronic pain and those who identify as neurodiverse often are highly sensitive to sensory input, particularly from clothing textures. Tags, seams, and rough fabrics can be very irritating or impossible to tolerate for some individuals. In the past decade, however, more brands are offering “sensory-friendly” clothing, which is made from soft materials, doesn’t have tags, and is designed to fit comfortably. Here are just a few examples:

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